Veterans Melzer and Berrer, ATP Main Draw Débutante Alex Bolt among 2015 BNP Paribas Open Men’s Qualifiers
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The final stage of qualification got underway on Wednesday with both old and new players booking their place into the 2015 Indian Wells main draw. 8 of the 25 seeded player’s booked their place, while four unseeded players also qualified.
Jurgen Melzer continued his impressive Indian Wells record by maneuvering his way past Michael Russell to make the Indian Wells main draw for the 12th consecutive year. The former top 10 player spend just over two hours on the court before beating Russell 6-4 5-7 6-3. The 33-year-old Austrian is currently ranked 86th in the world, however he is yet to win back to back matches in any main draw this year.
Borna Coric was pushed all the way in the final set by 2011 French Open boy’s champion Bjorn Fratangelo before reaching his first ever master’s main draw by taking the match 6-1 2-6 7-6(9-7). After easily taking the first set, Coric had a taste of his own medicine when Fratangelo fought back to square the match. The American also broke Coric in the final set to lead 4-2 and be only two games away from a landmark victory. The lead was however short lived as Coric battled back to take proceedings into a deciding tie-break where he finally took it 9-7. To make the win even more special, the 18-year-old had to save three match points (one while trailing 4-5 and two in the tie-break) to the heartbreak of his rival and the home crowd.
Similar to Coric, Australia’s Alex Bolt will also embark on new territory following a 6-3 7-5 win over James McGee. Throughout the match Bolt remained strong on his serve as his Irish rival failed to break him during the one hour and eleven minute match.The 22-year-old Australian is currently at a career ranking high of 164 in the world.
Bolt will be joined in the main draw by his fellow countryman James Duckworth, who endured a tough qualification match against Rajeev Ram. Duckworth, who reached the second round of the Australian Open earlier this year and has been in good form as of late, was a set and break down against the experienced Ram before climbing his way back into the match and eventually take it 2-6 7-5 6-4 to make his first ever Masters main draw.
Unfortunately, Luke Saville was unable to complete the Australian hatrick of qualifiers as he was knocked out in straight sets by Serbian 8th seed Filip Krajinović. After losing three out of his four service games in the first set, Saville put up a tougher fight in the second set, however, it wasn’t enough to tame Krajinović as he went on to take it 6-1 7-6 in 99 minutes.
One of the biggest stories of the day was Dennis Novikov’s epic three set win against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, a player ranked 162 places higher than him. Novikov, who beat Jerzy Janowicz in the first round of the 2012 US Open, was behind 3-6 0-2 before fighting his way back to take it in three sets. The win means that he will be the 11th American man to participate in the main draw. Following his win, Novikov expressed his delight on his Twitter account.
There was some consolation for Gimeno-Traver as he received a lucky loser spot into the main draw.
Despite approaching the end of his tennis career, Victor Hănescu has still demonstrated that he can play among the big guns. The world 146 was pushed all the way by Nikoloz Basilashvili before finally taking it 3-6 6-4 7-6(7-5). Hanescu has reached the second round at Indian Wells on five separate occasions. The most recent of these was last year where he beat Stéphane Robert in the first round before losing to Milos Raonic in the next round.
Germany’s Michael Berrer cruised into the main stage of Indian Wells with a straight forward 6-4 6-4 win against wildcard entry Mackenzie McDonald. McDonald, who has only played in two Future tournaments this year, was no match for the experienced Berrer on the day, as Berrer qualified for the third time on the ATP World Tour this year.
Yannick Hanfmann, the best player on the USC tennis team, was unable to produce another sensational upset as he bowed out in three sets to Edouard Roger-Vasselin. In the first round the world 819 stunned 10th seed Paul-Henri Mathieu. Despite the loss, Hanfmann can still be fairly satisfied with how he played as he took Mathieu, a player ranked 700 places higher than him, to three sets.
James Ward was unable to reproduce his Davis Cups Heroics as he could only win four games against Mischa Zverev. Last weekend, Ward staged an outstanding comeback to beat John Isner in five sets to help Great Britain beat America in round 1 of the Davis Cup. All the effort by Ward has now, however appeared to catch up with him physically as the former world number 64 cruised to a 6-3 6-1 win. Zverev, formerly a top 100 player, had to win the pre-qualifier to get into the qualifying draw and he certainly made the best of it.
Frank Dancevic booked his placed in the main draw of the Indian Wells Masters for the first time since 2007 following a three set win against Germany’s Philipp Petzschner. The Canadian was in big trouble as he trailed a set and 0-3 before staging a mighty comeback to take the second set to his opponents surprise. Unfortunately for Petzschner, the momentum that he generated in the first set and at the start of the second rapidly evaporated as Dancevic save five break points to comfortably take the final set with the final score being 5-7 6-4 6-1.
Finally, rounding competing the list of 12 qualifiers is Thiemo de Bakker. Baker, who reached the third round at the Indian Wells Masters back in 2010, brushed aside, young American, and Californian teenager Taylor Harry Fritz 6-4 6-4. Fritz has a promising future, but it will take some time to develop his game towards the ATP level. De Bakker has qualified for four ATP events this year and appears to be nearing critical mass.
In the main draw, Novikov will face Melzer to earn the right to face John Isner, Coric will face Andreas Haider-Maurer for the right to face Bernard Tomic, Mischa Zverev will face Adrian Mannarino, before a possible encounter with Fabio Fognini, Gimeno-Traver will play Sam Groth as a lucky loser with the winner to face Ernests Gulbis. Roger-Vasselin will face Marinko Matosevic with Feliciano Lopez to follow if he wins, De Bakker will play Jarkko Nieminen with a good draw that would see him facing Pablo Cuevas in round 2. Duckworth will play youngster Dominic Thiem with Fernando Verdasco as the seed in waiting, Dancevic will face Alex Dolgopolov, with Santiago Giraldo as the seed in waiting, Berrer will have a good chance against Victor Estrella, with Gilles Simon on deck, Rafa Nadal awaits the winner of Krajinovic and Igor Sijsling, and if Bolt beats Robin Haase he would face Stan Wawrinka next. Last but not least, Hanescu will face fellow veteran Mikhail Youzhny, with another veteran, Andreas Seppi, lurking.